Currently, no overarching survey has been undertaken to quantify and assess the entire resource of in-situ architectural elements and ex-situ fragments in Scotland. Up to now, inventories have mainly focused on specific sites, geographical areas, periods and object types. Significant examples include the RCAHMS inventories of Argyll (notably Iona; RCAHMS 1982), incorporating architectural stones together with other classes of carved stones, and The Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland concentrating on material from the late 11th century to the late 12th century. The latter initiative intends to publish a complete online record of all the surviving Romanesque sculpture. As of March 2016, nearly 2000 entries have been published online for the 5000-plus estimated sites, but only two records relate to Scotland.
Since 1995, a systematic programme of cataloguing, photographing and profiling ex-situ carved stones has been undertaken by Historic Scotland (now Historic Environment Scotland) to catalogue material associated with the Properties in Care that it manages on behalf of Scottish Ministers (Márkus 2003) (Figure 42). As of March 2016, this inventory has recorded over 7500 carved stones from over 58 medieval ecclesiastical and secular sites across Scotland. A further 24 properties, with relatively small-sized collections, remain to be fully catalogued in this way. This recording and analysis has improved our understanding of the earlier date, form and development of buildings, and their architectural significance (HES Explore the Collections; Figure 43). It has led to the better protection and storage of the fragments, as well as enabling new research that has informed improvements to site-based interpretation for visitors. Architectural carved collections have been redisplayed at 19 properties following this work, most notably at Dunkeld Cathedral, Dryburgh Abbey, Bothwell Castle and Elgin Cathedral (Owen and Fleming 2016; Elgin Cathedral: Case Study 21).
Figure 42: Cataloguing the ex-situ fragments of architecture at properties in the care of Historic Scotland. Crown Copyright: Historic Environment Scotland
Figure 43: The HES Collections website for architectural carved stones, screen dump 26 March 2016. Crown Copyright: Historic Environment Scotland